Cottage owners on a northwestern Ontario lake say Confederation College has disrupted the enjoyment of their summer properties now that the college has moved its float plane training base westward from Shebandowan to Eva Lake.
Camp owner Wayne Miller said he's never seen the amount of air traffic over Eva Lake as he did last Saturday.
"It was pretty crazy," he said.
A local outfitter has also used the lake to launch and land planes for a number of years.
Miller has been spending his summers at Eva Lake for nearly three decades and is one of a group of campers upset with the college for using their lake to train pilots.
"There's the social aspect of course, [with] the boaters, kayakers, canoeists and with the lake travel where it was happening," he said. "I think it's a safety factor [too]."
College limiting frequent use of lake
The executive director of Advancement and Communications at Confederation College College said the training base falls within Transport Canada guidelines, but added the college has tried to make accommodations to lessen the impact on campers.
"We actually don't operate until 9 a.m. on Saturday," Sue Prodaniuk said.
Saturday was a particularly busy day for the college's planes launching and landing because it was a testing day where students had to take off and land multiple times in a short period, she said.
Prodaniuk said the college will only use Eva Lake as frequently as it did on Saturday about twice a month.
"We don't operate on Sundays [and] typically we would have in the past," she added. "We won't operate on any long weekends. So we've already made those changes."
She said that on most days the students take off from Eva Lake and do most of their flying elsewhere — only landing at Eva Lake to refuel.
Camper wants college to use ‘different lake’
Prodaniuk noted the college will continue to listen — and respond to — campers' concerns.
The college is taking questions and concerns from cottagers and the public online at http://www.confederationc.on.ca/evalake. The college held an open house in late May to hear from cottagers and plans to hold another one in July.
Miller said he's been in touch with area politicians about his concerns and is urging other cottagers to do the same.
"I would like to see the college go ... onto a different lake," he said. "They picked one of the most populated lakes in the area to put a flight school on, and I don't think that's right."